Skip to main content

Full text of "Tyler Park Historic District Brochure"

See other formats

Tyler Park 
Historic District 

Lowell’s National Register 


The Tyler Park Historic District represents the subur¬ 

banization of Lowell at the turn of the 20th century. An 
expanding electric trolley system in the late 19th cen¬ 
tury made Tyler Park one of Lowell’s most desirable 
new residential areas for the city’s middle class. 
Homes include those built in the Federal, Italianate, 
Shingle, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and 
Bungalow/Craftsman styles. Tyler Park, designed by 
Charles Eliot, is believed to be the smallest park ever 
built by the famous Olmsted firm. 







Early Development 

The area encompassing the Tyler Park Historic District 
was open land until the late 1880s. This area had previ¬ 
ously been a thinly settled rural section of Middlesex 
Village in Chelmsford that was annexed to Low ell in 

Streetcar lines through the Highlands along Westford 
Street encouraged residential development by 1886. In 
1888 Mrs. Thomas Gibson and James Bennett subdivided 
two properties and laid out Gibson Street and Florence 
Avenue. When the trolley lines were electrified and 
extended west to Pine Street around 1893, additional 
residential development ensued. 

In 1893, Mrs. Samuel Tyler sold a large pasture to William 
Bent, a local attorney. The land was subdivided into a 
fashionable residential neighborhood known as the Tyler 
Park Lands subdivision. Deed restrictions required the con¬ 
struction of substantial two story houses with slate roofs 
and a fifteen foot setback from the street. The parklike 
setting of the subdivision soon attracted many of Lowells 
prosperous middle and upper middle class families. 

Exempted from construction was a 2.74 acre park site 
Mrs. Tyler and her daughter Susan Emma Tyler donated 
to the City for a public park. Tyler Park, designed by 
Charles Eliot, and constructed under the supervision of 
landscape architects Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot, became 
the central feature of the Tyler Park Lands subdivision. 

Architectural Development 

A small number of buildings in the District pre-date the 
suburban subdivision of land in the area beginning in 
1886. An early Federal style bouse stands at 375 Pine 
Street (ca. early 1800s) with its symmetrical massing and 
dominant central entrance. Several Italianate style houses 
also predate later subdivisions including 469 Pine Street 
(ca. 1860-75). 








The majority of Victorian residences in the Tyler Park 
area were built between 1890 and 1924. The term 
“Victorian” actually embraces several different styles of 
architecture found in the District. Queen Anne, 
Colonial Revival, and Bungalow/Craftsman styles domi¬ 
nate while a rich collection of stained glass windows can 
be found among the District’s residences. 





Queen Anne homes 
are highly decorative, 
often combining 
materials, colors, and 
textures. 174 Foster 
Street’s (ca. 1880-95) 
features include jigsaw 
cut work elaborating 
the eaves line, brack¬ 
ets, and wrap around 
porch as well as 
stained glass parlor and stairway windows and turned 
porch supports with decorative jigsaw cut brackets. 163 
Dartmouth Street (1893), 215 Foster Street, and 77 Tyler 
Park (1893) are among many Queen Anne homes in the 






District, the latter including a turreted tower evident 
on several Queen Amies in the area. 





Shingle style 
homes are simi¬ 
lar in style to the 
Queen Anne, 
the distinguish¬ 
ing feature 
being the wood¬ 
en shingle. 224 
Foster Street 
(1893) com¬ 
bines Queen 
Anne elements 
wi th Shingle 
style features. 

The shingled gable field is enhanced by a central window 
with curved reveals, a distinctive Shingle style feature. 










Colonial Revival 
homes were 
inspired by 
Colonial architec¬ 
ture and many can 
he found through¬ 
out the District. 
Colonial Revival 
homes include 
16 Tyler Park 
(1900), 48 Tyler 
Park (1914), 64 
Tyler Park (1894), 
and 1 5 Georgia 
Avenue (1898). 

Craftsman/Bungalow style homes originated in Southern 
California and spread across the country through maga¬ 
zines and pattern books. 685 Westford Streets (1922) 
details include exposed rafters, deeply overhanging 
eaves, dark stained shingles, and trellised porch supports. 
Other Craftsman/Bungalow homes include 37 Georgia 
Avenue (1915), 366 Princeton Boulevard (1924), and 
several along Gertrude Avenue. 

The Colonial Revival Style 

Many homes in the Tvler Park area were con¬ 
structed in the Colonial Revival style. Houses 
built in the Colonial Revival style imitate, and 
often exaggerate, Colonial architectural details. 

During the late 19th century there was a revived 
interest in Colonial architecture in the United 
States. The 1876 Centennial influenced this 
as did reactions to the excesses of Victorian 

Colonial Revival homes imitate their 18th cen¬ 
tury originals. While some attempt to copy real 
Colonials, others are Victorian homes with 
Colonial detail applied as decoration and orna¬ 
ment. The Colonial Revival style was the most 
common residential architectural style in the 
first half of the 20th century. 

64 Tyler Park is one of the Districts most out¬ 
standing Colonial Revival residences. Its 
symmetrical facade is highlighted by corner 
pilasters and a dentilled cornice. A porch across 
the front, supported by Doric columns and 
pilasters, is extended at the center with a semi¬ 
circular portico decorated with carved swags. 






Tyler Park 

Tyler Park is the only park in Lowell designed 
and laid out exclusively by Charles Eliot and 
the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted. Exempted 
from construction in the Tyler Park Lands 
subdivision, the 2.74 acre parksite was donated 
to the City of Lowell by the Tyler family in 1893 
for use as a public park. The park was an impor¬ 
tant selling point for house lots in the area. 

Charles Eliot, a prominent Boston landscape 
architect, undertook the design of the park. 
Shortly after beginning work, Eliot became a 
partner in the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, 
the country’s foremost landscape architects. 

The Olmsted firm was responsible for New York 
City’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden 
Gate Park, and over 300 parks in Massachusetts. 
Of their parks, Tyler Park is believed to be the 
smallest ever built by the firm. 

Tyler Park was designed to take advantage of the 
site’s natural features. Eliot included paths, a 
central fountain, and a childrens’ play area in 
his plan. After Eliot’s death in 1897, John 
Charles Olmsted continued to supervise work 
on the park. However, Olmsted found the park s 
construction disappointing, especially the stone 
work of the central fountain which was disman¬ 
tled in 1906 for the creation of a rockery. 

Despite Eliot’s plan for the park never being 
fully executed, much of the strength of his origi¬ 
nal design is still evident today. The topography, 
trees, and rocks reflect the vision of Eliot’s plan 
while traces of the rockery and original paths 
still remain. 

Who’s Who at Tyler Park 

Early residents of the Tyler Park area reflected the growth 
of new middle and upper middle classes in Lowell in the 
late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tyler Park was consid¬ 
ered one of Lowell’s finer new neighborhoods attracting 
many businessmen, professionals, and merchants. Many 
homes in the area were owner-occupied while others 
were single and multi-family structures built by developers 
and speculators for the rental market. 





Tyler Park’s 
early resi¬ 
dents was 
Mrs. Dr. 
Drew, one 
the first 
in the 

United States, who lived at 15 Georgia Avenue. 165 
Dartmouth Street was the home of Frederick Sherman 
who operated an insurance business. George Bagley, a 
carpenter who built several homes in the Tyler Park area, 
lived at 174 Foster Street. Lawyer John O’Donoghue 
resided at 84 Florence Avenue. At 237 Foster Street lived 
Arthur Whitney, partner in Stone and Whitney, sellers of 
gentleman’s furnishings in Lowell. 

16 Tyler Park was built by William Hills, vice-president 
of Traders National Bank in Lowell. Alfred Towson, a 
chemist, bought 98 Tyler Park in 1909. Lawyer Solon 
Stevens owned 64 Tyler Park. Harry Kittredge, the owner 
of a stationery store and several bowling alleys, resided at 
24 Georgia Avenue. 222 Gibson Street was the home of 
Frank Brown, a foreman at the Bay State Mills. 

The National Register of Historic Places 

The*National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the 
Nation’s resources worthy of preservation for their architectural, 
historical, or cultural value. The National Register was estab¬ 
lished in 1966 as a list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, 
and objects significant in American history, architecture, arche¬ 
ology, and culture. Buildings that have contributed to the 
development of the Nation and the Commonwealth, which are 
over fifty years old and not altered significantly, may be eligible. 

Listing on the National Register does not place restrictions or 
limitations on the use, alteration, or disposition of private prop¬ 
erty. Listing does provide some protection from adverse action 
due to Federal or State funding, permitting, or licensing. 
Additionally, certain property owners who rehabilitate income- 
producing certified historic properties may be eligible for federal 
tax credits. 

The Lowell Historic Board 

Established by state statute in 1983, the Lowell Historic Board 
serves to preserve and protect the historic and architectural 
resources of the Downtown Lowell Historic District while 
encouraging economic development and tourism in the 
District’s historic setting. As the City of Lowell’s historic preser¬ 
vation agency, the Board also maintains the city’s inventory of 
historic structures and sites. The Board also provides technical 
assistance and information on preservation to property owners 
citywide in addition to publishing educational and outreach 
materials and sponsoring several workshops and events 
throughout the year. 


For additional information about 
the Tyler Park Historic District, 
other National Register or historic 
sites in Lowell, and historic preser¬ 
vation, contact: 

Lowell Historic Board 

J.F.K. Civic Center 
50 Arcand Drive 
Lowell, MA 01852 

For additional information about 
the National Register, contact: 

Massachusetts Historical 
220 Morrissey Boulevard 
Boston, MA 02125 
(617) 727-8470 

National Register of 
Historic Places 

Interagency Resources Division 
National Park Service 
U.S. Department of the Interior 
P.O. Box 37127 
Washington, D.C. 20013-7127 
(202) 343-9536 

For information on architectural 
styles, preservation, and restora¬ 
tion, try: 

A Field Guide to 
American Houses 
Virginia and Lee McAlester 
New York: Alfred A. Knopf (1985) 

T he Old House Journal Guide 
to Restoration 

Patricia Poore, editor 

Old House Journal Corporation 


As you explore the Tyler Park Historic 
District, please respect the rights of 
property owners by not trespassing and 
remaining on public property as you 
view the many historic resources of 
the District. 

This brochure is based upon the 
National Register of Historic Places 

This brochure has been financed in part 
with Federal funds from the National Park 
Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 
through the Massachusetts Historical 
Commission, Secretary of the 
Commonwealth William Francis Galvin, 
Chairman. However, the contents and opin¬ 
ions do not necessarily reflect the views or 
policies of the Department of the Interior, 
or the Massachusetts Historical 

registration form for the Tyler Park 

Historic District (Heli Meltsner and 
Bonnie Marxer, 1987) on file at the 
Lowell Historic Board, the Massa¬ 
chusetts Historical Commission, and 
the National Register of Historic Places, 
Washington, D.C. Information is also 
based upon the Tyler Park Historic 
District Walking Tour Brochure 
(Susan Scott, 1990). 

This program receives Federal funds from 
the National Park Service. The U.S. 
Department of the Interior prohibits dis¬ 
crimination on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, age. gender or handicap in 
its federally assisted programs. If you 
believe you have been discriminated 
against in any program, activity, or facility 
as described above, or if you desire further 
information, please write to: Office for 
Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the 
Interior, 1849 C Street NW. Room 1324. 
Washington. DC 20240. 

The Lowell Historic Board wishes to 
acknowledge the generous assistance 
of the Lowell Museum Corporation in 
contributing to the production of this 
brochure series. 

Historic images courtesy of Pollard 
Memorial Library and the University 
of Massachusetts Lowell Center for 
Lowell History. 

Written by Stephen Stowell 
Design by Higgins & Ross 
Printed by Sullivan Brothers Printers 

1996, 2003 by the Lowell Historic Board 
Kevin P. Broderick, Chairman 
Stephen Stowell, Administrator 

Rita M. Mercier, Mayor 
john F. Cox, City Manager